Quail are elegant and delightful little game birds that you never have to worry about being tough if you able to buy them fresh. And it is getting easier to find them in supermarkets and local butcher shops these days, although many are sold frozen. For the most part, quail are good to make for guests because they can “hold” in a pan for 15 to 20 minutes without drying out.
For this dish, white grape juice is used, which adds a tart flavor to the sauce and as an acid, it easily cuts through the fat of the ham and the bacon.
It is the perfect dish to serve with brunch with a side of grits.
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leave
8 quail, spatchcocked
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 pound Virginia ham, cut into 1/4-inch julienne
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup white grape juice*
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Combine salt, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the birds with seasonings.
Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until it is foaming, barely browning. Add the quail skin side down. Sprinkle with ham and cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until skin is golden brown. Turn the birds over and continue to cook until the juices run clear, another 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and let the quail rest, covered for about 10 minutes.Arrange the quail on a serving platter and sprinkle with ham and bacon.
Pour the fat from the skillet, reserving two tablespoons. Add the grape juice and bring to the skillet to a boil. Cook for about 1 minute, scraping the brown bits from the bottom, to deglaze the skillet. Pour the sauce over the quail and garnish with parsley if desired and serve.
This dish calls for country ham which is salt cured, so be be VERY cautious with any additional that you add to the dish, while cooking.
*White cranberry juice, white wine or water are suitable substituted for the white grape juice in this recipe.
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